I regard the theater as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being. - Oscar Wilde
Drama at Laurence is viewed as a key piece of the overall curriculum, as it is a centerpiece in the development of early childhood confidence and imagination. Innately student-centered, our new 1,100 square foot drama classroom provides an engaging environment where students’ creative and expressive skills are developed and nurtured through both arts-integration strategies and skills-based learning. We have found that drama is an excellent vehicle for integration with the core subject areas, as it can be used to explore social, historical, and literary themes. Beyond this, we are confident that drama helps children learn to be more adaptable—a skill that will no doubt prove invaluable as they navigate through situations of today and tomorrow.
K-3 Drama Curriculum
Our kindergarten through third graders attend drama class on a regular basis. Through a holistic approach, these students explore a variety of topics and themes in a creative and dynamic atmosphere. They are also taught specific skills, which are integrated with core-subject matter knowledge and Character Education, and they take these skills with them into their extracurricular activities, onto the playground, and into their lives. In the younger grades students are nurtured to develop their public speaking skills building confidence and fostering a comfort of self-expression.
4-6 Drama Curriculum
Our upper elementary students also attend drama on a regular basis. The fourth through sixth grade students are exposed to a variety of exciting opportunities through drama such as Shakespeare, social studies simulations, improvisation, characterization, and playwriting.
All Laurence students study numerous performance skills and develop both verbal and non-verbal communication skills, as well as body awareness, self-control, concentration, collaboration, and confidence in creative self-expression. They learn dramatic literacy through exposure to theater-specific vocabulary, which is prominently displayed on our drama room walls. Furthermore, they come to appreciate the role of theater in society by examining the many relevant themes which theater has to offer.
Our children also explore basic play production elements—such as staging, set design, and prop and costume design—and learn audience skills by watching performances and speaking about them analytically through observation, discussion, and response. Our primary objective is to ensure that our children develop an appreciation for theater arts and to foster an early passion that might inspire some students to become life-long theater aficionados.
UNIT EXAMPLES: Pantomime, Poetry Performance, Improvisation, Shakespeare, Playwriting, and Theater Vocabulary.
We feel that drama can and should be used as a learning avenue to other core subject areas, such as language arts and social studies. In collaborating with classroom teachers, our drama specialist enhances our students' content knowledge, providing them with an all-inclusive, top-down view of the curriculum. In the winter time, the drama department and music team collaborate, using song, dance and instrumental music to help students prepare for their Brotherhood Performances—integrated celebrations of friends, family, the holiday season, and our sister countries, including: the United States, China, Japan, England, Australia, Mexico, Liberia, Egypt, and Israel.
UNIT EXAMPLES: Chinese New Year, Chinese Folktales (social studies/language arts/drama integration), Native American Folktales (social studies/language arts/drama integration), The Secret of Dreaming: An Aboriginal Creation Story (social studies/language arts/drama integration).
UNIT EXAMPLES: The Lion and the Mouse, The Selfish Giant, Peace, Conflict Resolution and the Wheel of Choice, Representing the “L”
Each year, fourth through sixth graders explore a specific Shakespeare play. The classroom teachers partner with the drama specialist to deliver exciting curriculum that culminates in the performance of a Shakespearean scene, in concert with a professional actor. In years past, we have been fortunate enough to work with renowned actor, Kevin McKidd.
Process drama adds excitement to the general classrooms by supporting authentic learning opportunities. Through simulations, such as traveling back to Ellis Island or to the time of the Revolutionary War, teachers infuse drama into their curriculum and make learning active and tangible for their students.